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Museum Photography

Object Conservation

Conservation is the scientific practice of preserving and maintaining museum objects. The museum conservator has overall responsibility for ensuring that the objects are kept safe, however all staff that come into contact with the objects will be trained in object handling techniques.

When not on display, museum objects are kept securely in a museum store. Here the conditions such as temperature, humidity and light levels are tightly controlled to make sure the objects stay in the best condition possible. 

Photograph showing long shelves filled with different objects, including animal skeletons, model boat, taxidermy, harps and a blackboard
The Discovery Centre Museum Store, Leeds

Before an object goes on display at a museum it needs to be condition checked. This is the process of making sure it is suitable and ready to be put in a museum gallery. If it needs cleaning or repairing, the conservator will complete the work before it goes on display. 

It is important to use the right methods on the right materials to avoid potential damage.

They will also advise on how best to display the object so that it doesn't get damaged. Damage to an object can happen at any time, during storage, during display or when being handled by staff. Sunlight can cause fabrics, prints and paintings to fade, which is why light levels are carefully controlled in museum galleries.

Pair of stays in storage box. One side is a lighter brown than the other.
Light Damaged Stays

One concern a lot of museums have with conserving their collection is pests. There are many types of invertebrates that could damage a collection in a museum and so bug traps are often set around museum buildings to allow the conservator to monitor the pest population. If a particular bug population gets too high then measures need to be taken to ensure the collection is not damaged or destroyed.


Image of a taxidermied red squirrel that was partially destroyed by moths eating the fur.
Damaged Taxidermy Specimen